Citroën had already used the prefix AK for its light commercials, so it was an obvious pun to name the AK Dyane "Acadiane" (similar pronunciation in French). There was no connection beyond the pun with the French-speaking region of Louisiana that is home to Cajun (Acadiane) cooking.
The Acadiane differed from the Dyane on which it was based in having heavier-duty suspension, a slightly altered chassis and a rear-brake limiter whose action was dependent on the load. It is believed that one or more of the gear ratios may also have been lower to help with heavy loads.
The Acadiane was also fitted with wind-down windows in the driver's and passenger's doors. This was seen as one luxury too many by some. The Dyane car had horizontally-sliding windows.
The payload was approximately 500 kg (1,100 lb), but handling was impaired when fully loaded.
The Acadiane was available in commercial (two-seater) form or as a "Mixte", with sliding rear windows and a removable rear bench seat. Citroën and many other manufacturers continue to this day (Berlingo et al.) with the option of rear seats in a vehicle clearly designed as a commercial. The Mixte version also had a passenger sun visor, missing in the more basic commercial version. The passenger sun visor might also be seen as one luxury too many. From an aesthetic perspective, the Mixte version's shallower sliding windows lacked the "Baker's van cool" of the taller, fixed items in the two-seater, which followed the curve of the bodywork into the roof.
In line with many Citroën light commercials, the roof of the rear bodywork was corrugated to add extra rigidity at little cost.
With its high ground clearance, an Acadiane could be fitted with the 15×145 (15×135 were standard) tyres from a Citroën GS and become fairly capable off-road, its light weight helping out where lack of 4WD might have slowed it down. Low tyre pressures gave excellent grip on loose surfaces, allowing the light vehicle to scrabble around to some effect even in the softest of sand.
Where traction failed, there was even the "Ice Cold in Alex" option of selecting reverse and using the starting handle to 'wind' the van up a slope it lacked the grip or momentum to drive up. Best to keep the thumb tucked away when doing this, to avoid finding yourself using undignified language.
On the road, despite its 602 cc air-cooled motor, an Acadiane could keep up with modern traffic. The driving style most likely to ensure brisk forward motion involved leaving the foot planted on the floor, changing up only when there were no more revs and never, ever braking for bends. Down-changes needed to be addressed in good time to maintain progress through bends. Anticipation is the key to good journey times in anything with 32 bhp (24 kW; 32 PS). The Acadiane cruised on the flat comfortably and economically at 55 mph (89 km/h). If driven hard, economy around 34 mpg could be expected. If nursed, 44 mpg was perfectly possible, probably even more for the endlessly patient.
The best way to tell if downchanges were too violent or taken too soon was to see if the fan was still attached to its backplate. If it was, the gearchange was fine. If it had sheared, the change may have been too violent or too early. This system of gauging downchange speeds was extremely accurate - and for this reason it was a good idea to carry a spare fan and the correct socket on a 3/8-inch extension under the driver's seat. A large, flat-bladed screwdriver to wedge the flywheel while removing the fan was also useful. The shearing of the plastic fan from its backplate was signalled by a strange grinding and churning noise from the nose. If one were unlucky, the separation would take one of the oil-cooler feed pipes with it. If so, you were in for a messy and lengthy repair. Usually, this did not happen.
Top gear in the four-speed box was usually referred to as overdrive. This had been so since the earliest days of the 2CV. In most circumstances it was best used as such. Progress could be maintained in top, but further acceleration was unlikely. As the motor thrived on revs, third made a perfectly good gear to get up to 80 km/h (50 mph). By setting up the dash-mounted gear change with second and third on the same plane of movement, Citroën blessed the Acadiane and its peers with one of the sweetest and most driver-friendly changes of its day. Engaging first could be troublesome, but changes between second and third were always a joy.
The key to brisk progress in any A-Series Citroën is keeping the engine speed up and getting a feel for when the 'terminal angle of tilt' has been reached. Once the vehicle is in a bend and is not going to be subjected to further body roll, the throttle can be applied with abandon. Despite giving the impression that the thing will roll over, this is highly unlikely while travelling forward. Staying in a low gear allows for understeer to be dealt with by backing off lightly. Apart from that, it's just a matter of hanging on and believing. The above does not necessarily apply in the wet or when there is ice or snow on the road.
The Acadiane was probably the last light commercial vehicle supplied new in northern Europe with a starting handle, a wooden wheel chock and a grill muff for cold weather. The last descendent of the early 2CV-based vans, the model was killed off by cost of manufacture and the tightening grip of safety and emissions regulations.
Few Acadianes exist today, as it was not unknown for them to rust.